Evolutionary Nutrition through Biologically Specie Appropriate Raw Food
Edited by Dr Anuska Viljoen, BVSc (Hons), VetMFHom MRCVS LicICCH
(Image Credit: Science Briefss / http://www.sciencebriefss.com)
Through the Looking Glass
The topic of nutrition transcended from health conscience parents to pets over the last couple of decades, to a point where today we have a brewing “David and Goliath” story in the making. No less due to social pressures, career orientated couples, empty nesters and increased demand on home security, many more pet parents are starting to evaluate their pets’ nutritional needs with similar consideration as their own. Combine these ever-increasing demands on pet care with ever increasing veterinary fees and escalating costs of companion animal care, pet parents and guardians are actively looking toward international trends for guidance. These trends have resulted in the growth of the biologically specie appropriate raw pet food market, an area of business that we as Raw Food for Pets (Pty) Ltd specialise in.
|Please Note:The following information is meant as a general guideline, and has been researched from other sources. The information provided in this article does not provide or offer medical advice for you or your fur kids. The content we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your doctor or veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition for your fur kids. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site, in this document or those we reference. Before feeding a pet with a medical condition one of our natural diets, please check with your veterinarian first to make sure the diet does not compromise your pet’s health care.|
The debate currently raging, and fuelling our story, came about because of the public awareness created by Drs Ian Billinghurst and Tom Lonsdale in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, applying very different philosophies, about going back to basics with nutrition. Both came to the same conclusion, feeding a more natural, wholesome and appropriate diet, being the key to healthy pets. Dr Lonsdale advocated Raw Meaty Bones through his book titled “Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health” and Dr Billinghurst through his first book titled “Give Your Dog a Bone”. By the end of the 1980’s, the combination of Dr Billinghurst formal and private studies, together with his research into the relationship between what his dog and cat patients ate and their state of health, had convinced Dr Billinghurst that “evolutionary nutrition” was the only nutritional program able to promote and sustain genuine health for our companion animals. Dr Billinghurst realised that this principle applied equally to all animal species - including humans. It was this revelation that lead to the first of Dr Billinghurst three books on Companion Animal Nutrition.
In 2001 Dr Billinghurst Released his third book, titled the “The BARF Diet”, a turning point in the then “informal” journey of home-made diets and traditional farm-style feeding. BARF, initially a simple acronym for “Bones and Raw Food”, subsequently being defined as “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”, challenged the traditional and conventional commercial science behind the pet food industry. Fast forward several years, to when Dr Billinghurst developed his own line of raw foods in Australia. This offended many of his fans - apparently, it is perfectly fine to sell books to tell people exactly how to feed a raw diet, but not to sell the actual components of the diet to those who are unable or unwilling to prepare it themselves. The people who were once such passionate supporters of Dr Billinghurst were now just as passionately opposed to him and the BARF diet. The "raw feeding" movement was born - resulting in the creation of a many different views of the same philosophy - Prey Model, Raw Meaty Bones only, Frakenprey, Supplemented BARF … and so the list will continue.
However, an important point often forgotten is that BARF is not a product. It is a simple philosophy that adopts the basic concept of biologically specie appropriate raw diets. It applies to companion animals and humans alike. Biologically specie appropriate diets do not define form. It does not define consistency. It does not prescribe muscle meat, veggies, fruit and the feeding state of the meal. It simply defines the concept - biologically specie appropriate raw FOOD.
The philosophy behind using biologically specie appropriate diets, or the hypothesis on which it is based, is that the diet a dog and a cat evolved to eat - over many millions of years of evolution - is the best way to feed it. A biologically appropriate raw diet is a system of feeding your pets what is "nutritionally sound and nutritionally adequate." For any given species of animal, a nutritionally adequate diet, meal or feeding program is one which provides the range, the type, the scope and the approximate balance of (nutritionally sound) food items that were eaten by that animal during its long period of evolution. Such a diet should contain most if not all the nutrients that animal requires for optimal health. This is the hypothesis accepted by most modern zoos or any zoologists concerned with preserving a species of endangered animal.
If you want to feed your fur kids a biologically specie appropriate diet, it means not feeding your fur kids cooked and or processed food. That is, not feeding your dog and / or cat a diet based on cooked grains, soy-derived or other plant-based protein sources. Artificial plant-based pet foods may be associated with several health problems in our pets today. They are not what your fur kids was programmed to eat during its long process of evolution and many pets simply don’t tolerate these diets well.
A biologically specie appropriate raw FOOD diet for your fur kids is one that consists of raw whole foods like those eaten by the dogs' (and cats’) wild ancestors. The food fed should contain the same balance and type of ingredients as consumed by those wild ancestors, in a similar form to that eaten by the wild ancestors. This food will include such things as raw muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and fermented vegetable materials and any other "foods" that mimic what those wild ancestors ate.
Modern dogs of any breed are not only capable of eating the food of their wild ancestors, but many will benefit from it in terms of improved health and vitality. This is because their basic physiology has changed very little with domestication, despite obvious and dramatic changes in their current physical appearance and mindset.
The same is true for our modern domestic cats – they too can benefit from a diet like that which their wild ancestors consumed.
The biologically specie appropriate raw diet, being an attempt to mimic the evolutionary diet of dogs and cats, must, from a practical point of view, use food that is available from economically viable local commercial sources. Biologically specie appropriate raw feeders do not have to go hunting or send their pets out to hunt or scavenge for their food. That is why biologically specie appropriate diets must "mimic", not duplicate, the evolutionary diet of dogs. This is an important distinction.
The biologically specie appropriate raw FOOD feeder will mimic, as closely as possible, rather than duplicate, the natural diet of their fur kids. We are not trying to return our dogs or cats to nature. It is virtually impossible to feed any domestic animal its natural diet, let alone allow it to live under natural conditions. There are grave dangers that go along with the natural diet and natural conditions the wild ancestors of our cats and dogs lived with. They faced lack of shelter, starvation, attack by other predators, and the potential for their prey to turn on them during the hunt. They also lacked the benefits of veterinary intervention: vaccination, antibiotics and preventative measures against external and internal parasites to name just a few. In other words, natural conditions can be deadly! That is not what we want for our much-loved pets. What we want for our fur kids is a diet and an environment that maximizes health, moving from merely surviving to thriving. That means a biologically appropriate raw diet rather than a natural diet, i.e. Biologically Specie Appropriate Raw Food, such as those supplied by us.
One controversial aspect of the biologically specie appropriate diet is the use of whole, raw, meaty bones as food for our dogs & cats. For most dogs, appropriately selected whole raw meaty bones do not constitute a danger. They simply and easily promote positive good health being a biologically appropriate food for our pets. However, where there is a perceived danger, owners can simply use bones that have been finely ground, such as those in our manufacturers’ (Simply Pets, Raw Love, Doggobone and Dogmatters), and industry partners’ (Paleopet Pure, Raw Gold and Doggy Chef), formulations.
In many of the current recipes formulations, the raw meaty bones are combined with fresh raw organ meat, vegetables, fruit, eggs, yoghurt, kelp and healthy herbs to provide a complete source of nutrition for your fur kids. Simply Pets recipes, formulated by Dr Anuska Viljoen, for example, mainly use muscle meat and not raw meaty bones. In the Simply Pets recipes, organs also make up a small part of the overall formulation.
Based on Drs Billinghurst and Lonsdale’s observations and guidelines, a biologically specie appropriate diet formulation should have:
- No added sugar;
- No added salt;
- No fillers;
- No chemicals;
- No artificial colourings;
- No added preservatives;
- No artificial flavourings;
- No grains or other plant-based protein sources such as soy;
- No heat processing…
Just fresh raw foods, the way nature intended our fur kids to eat.
“Evolutionary nutrition” is fuelling our story, as the concept and philosophy created much controversy in veterinary and commercial pet food industry circles as of late. Most veterinary professionals will be satisfied with your feeding regime if you told them that you are feeding AAFCO “approved” commercial meals to your fur kids, either kibble or wet food. The quality and source of the pet food is never questioned if it carries some form of “golden seal” approval from AAFCO.
AAFCO – the Association of American Feed Control Officials – is a US non-government association made up of US government employees. The key words to recognise to understand what AAFCO is are “Feed Control Officials”. For the most part, AAFCO is comprised of US State Department of Agriculture representatives that work together to develop future laws governing the food animals consume (feed) in the United States. In South Africa, these activities are mimicked through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as legislated through Act No.36 of 1947 titled “Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act”, regulation R 1087 published the 3rd of Nov 2006, further supported by The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) Advertising Code of Practice for Pet Food Advertising. The work of AAFCO includes guidance and cooperation with United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well. In Europe, this role is fulfilled through the European Pet Food Industry Federation (F.E.D.I.A.F) .
It is important to understand the AAFCO does not actually “approve” pet foods. AAFCO itself doesn’t approve or reject or have any regulatory authority at all in the United States. The confusion as to why many pet parents and veterinary professionals alike think AAFCO certifies or approves pet foods comes from the statement found on many pet food labels: “XYZ Pet Food is formulated to meet the nutrition levels established by the AAFCO Food Nutritional Profiles”, in compliance with local legislation, carry a V-Registration number. In many of the states in the United States, for a pet food to be labelled as a “food” it is required by law to meet the nutritional requirements established by AAFCO. It would be individual states in the United States – not AAFCO – that basically “approves” a pet food (or approves it to be classified as a food instead of classified for supplemental feeding). For our pet food consumers in South Africa, this “approval” is mandated through Act No.36 of 1947 with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and compliance is shown through the presence of the V-Registration number on the product.
AAFCO’s “provides complete and balanced nutrition” statement that appears on most pet food labels is perceived by many (and marketed by many) as the level of excellence – what all pet foods should be measured by. But, here are some anomalies that you should be aware of in this assumption …
The AAFCO system is feed, not food. In the United States Feed Control Official world, feed is what animals eat, food is what humans eat. Per United States Food and Drug Agency (FDA) Compliance Policies and AAFCO established model bills (another term for proposed legislation), feed can contain euthanized animals or pesticide contaminated ingredients – food cannot. AAFCO has a separate division that is specific to pet food, but Feed Control Officials still consider pet food a feed, as is the case in South Africa. In the United States, most states don’t take issue with a pet food (aka pet feed) containing protein sourced from euthanized animals or pesticide laden grains / vegetables – in their minds, it is a key contribution of recycling or repurposing of waste. Even though the “stuff” that pets consume is titled “pet food” it is considered “pet feed” and it is held to regulations of feed (not regulations of food).
The nutritional requirements established by AAFCO, and echoed through Act No.36 of 1947 and the F.E.D.I.A.F “Nutritional Guidelines for Complete and Complementary Pet Food for Cats and Dogs” (required Adobe PDF Reader), adopted by many across the globe, are based on feed quality of ingredients, not food quality of ingredients. And these nutritional requirements were established for highly processed foods like kibble (pellets), and does not cover “evolutionary nutrition”. This can pose a problem for pet foods that are made from food quality ingredients and are lightly processed, or not at all as the supreme cuisine we offer to our customers. It’s known as bio-availability – how well the body absorbs a nutrient. Mother Nature immediately understands what food is and utilizes the nutrition found in that food easily. To the contrary, Mother Nature might not easily utilise a synthetic supplement (man-made instead of Mother Nature made) or a nutrient sourced from a decaying, euthanized animal protein. Mother Nature can readily absorb the nutrients from a lightly or un-processed food, but she undoubtedly is challenged to utilize the nutrients in a highly-processed food. But in pet food regulations, both local and abroad, it is a one size fits all nutritional requirement. The AAFCO system does not acknowledge that a pet might utilize nutrition received from food better than it would from a feed or synthetic supplements.
Some pet foods that use whole food ingredients (not feed ingredients), recognize if they met the AAFCO one size fits all nutritional requirements, their food could be “harmful” (using the word loosely) to some pets (with some nutrients) based on the current nutritional profiles being subscribed to. Let’s rephrase this statement – if the food contains 100% pure protein, but the bio-availability of the feed is only 20%, then your pet will only be able to use or absorb 20% of the protein. However, if the food contains 80% biologically specie appropriate building blocks or protein, and the food is 100% bio-available, then your fur kids will be able to absorb 100% of the meal – and their nutritional intake will consume all the available protein, which might be too high if they suffer from certain medical conditions. These companies choose to forgo the “meets the AAFCO nutritional requirements for complete and balanced nutrition” label claim. Does that make these foods inferior? Absolutely not. In many cases, the manufacturers of these human grade / whole “food” pet foods provide superior nutrition. They are food – exactly what Mother Nature understands as the perfect method to provide the pet with required nutrition.
But does that mean all pet foods that do not meet the AAFCO nutritional requirement for complete and balanced nutrition are superior nutrition for our pets? No, it certainly does not. Because there are no regulations specific to food grade ingredients (and this is a key point in the “evolutionary nutritional” debate) or whole food nutrition for cats and dogs – undoubtedly some of these pet foods could be lacking in some nutrients needed by our pets.
AAFCO’s established “complete and balanced” nutrition provided daily is not how Mother Nature intended. Animals (and humans) are designed to be “seasonal eaters”. The US Cleveland Clinic defines seasonal eating as: “Eating foods when nature produces them is what people the world over have done naturally through most of history, before mega-supermarkets dotted the landscape and processed foods become ubiquitous. Seasonal eating is also a cornerstone of several ancient and holistic medical traditions, which view it as integral to good health and emotional balance.”
AAFCO’s established requirement that animal food should contain 100% of necessary nutrients the animal would need each day would be more suited for mass production of livestock animals (cattle, pigs, chickens) which have a short life span (from months to a few years). These 100% daily nutrient requirements were put in place decades ago because the livestock industry needed the animals to grow quickly and be healthy enough to be processed (slaughtered) as food. Today, there is no time to allow mass produced livestock the opportunity to eat seasonally. Our fur kids are expected to live long lives, thus the need for daily balanced nutrition is not the same as it is for mass produced livestock. But … in the one size fits all world of AAFCO – the same nutritional requirements met daily in feed is also required of pet food.
So why then AAFCO “approved” or Act 36 of 1947 registered? We are often asked why we only support registered manufacturers in South Africa - should my pet’s food carry a V-Registration? Yes and No.
As stated by Dr Viljoen, “all quality RAW FOOD will far exceed the Act 36 of 1947 nutritional profiles, and as such, should comply anyway. I do believe there must be guidelines in place, as I have had many cases in my practice where pet parents tried to do their own, and getting it wrong, resulting in health issues for their pets. However, nothing stops well educated pet parents to do this on their own, but the issues become complex when you can purchase commercial brand XYZ over-the-counter, produced in some obscure facility somewhere across the globe. As such, I believe that having the legislation and regulations in place, will ultimately protect the pets and their parents. Commercial over-the-counter food must be regulated, and a minimum standard must apply.”
In that the AAFCO established nutrient requirements only fit one segment of pet food (feed grade ingredients, mostly high processed) – yes, meeting the “complete and balanced” claim with commercial pet foods made with feed grade ingredients and pet food that are highly processed is probably better a good thing. It also means that our pet parents have some form of recourse and that the veterinary institutions cannot deny the feeding of registered meals.
But due to the concerns explained above, no – we do not believe a pet’s food is required to meet the “complete and balanced” nutritional requirements established by AAFCO. What we believe, and this is our own opinion, is the most important thing to consider when feeding our fur kids is that they be fed FOOD (inspected and approved for human consumption or at least, registered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which in turns means that the manufacturing facilities are inspected on a regular basis) – not feed (can be rejected for use in human food, euthanized animals, chemical and pesticide laden), such as the supreme meals we offer to our customers currently. So let us rephrase that for you – our manufacturers provide FOOD, not feed, in their meals and recipes – with 100% bio-availability. As such, if we reconsider the principles of “evolutionary nutrition” or biologically specie appropriate diets, then the AAFCO profiles do indeed not apply.
Our observation is that the Act 36 of 1947 registration process and requirements (aka - AAFCO’s “Complete and Balanced” or “Complementary”) can be a benefit or it can be a burden. There is no simple answer, considering the lack of independent canine and feline nutritional studies and guidelines available to our manufacturers today for biologically specie appropriate raw FOOD.
Complete or Complementary
That leads our discussion to another question that frequently surfaces – what are the differences between “Complete and Balanced” and “Complementary” meals status of the supreme pet cuisine we offer. In simple terms, “Complementary” meals are full meals (food NOT feed), but do not include additional vitamins, minerals and amino acids to achieve “Complete and Balanced” registration status in accordance with the current AAFCO nutritional profiles. “Complete and Balanced” meals (food) on the other hands, in the world of raw food diets, are basically “Complementary” meals to which additional vitamins, minerals and amino acids are added to comply with the AAFCO minimum Recommended Daily Allowances (RA) for cats and dogs, in support of Act 36 of 1947.
It is key to remember that:
- None of the current AAFCO or Act 36 of 1947 legislative frameworks makes provision for biologically specie appropriate raw FOOD nutritional profiles. Hence, our manufacturers chose to comply with the current pet food industry FEED standards and US National Research Council (NRC) guidelines for nutritional feed profiling, from which AAFCO derive their profiles;
- Only two meal status registrations are available within these frameworks – “Complete and Balanced” and “Complementary”, which focus on PROCESSED meals, treats, toys, supplements, et al, neither focused on food but rather feed;
- Feeding your fur kids on registered meals, will essentially mitigate any push-back you may receive from your vet, as the meals are qualified against the same indices (whether good or bad or relevant for that matter) that the commercial kibble and wet produce have been – so they meet the same minimum “standards” as those over-the-counter dry and wet food (feed) that you can purchase.
Under the guidelines provided in Act 36 of 1947, a “Complementary” meal is food (and the registration status) that meets the RA requirements, but have not gone through the expensive validation procedures required by local legislation to achieve “Complete and Balanced” registration.
Does that mean that our biologically specie appropriate raw “Complementary” meals are inferior or inadequate to “Complete and Balanced” meals? Absolutely not. It just means that some of our manufacturers might not have submitted the specific recipe for the extensive and expensive laboratory - and validation processes have not been completed for these meals. However, in the case of Raw Love, our manufacturer chose to engage in this validation process. But, to allow them some leeway in the recipe ingredients, retained the “Complementary” registration status on their meals. This is since once you achieve “Complete and Balanced” status, you may not vary minor ingredients in the recipe. Based on availability of super foods such as Blue Berries and others, Raw Love often include these in their recipes. Since the formulation of these meals are similar, or even the same, as for “Complete and Balanced” meals, and the meals are as designed by Mother Nature, these meals essentially should result the same RA’s as the ones tested and validated.
Commercial pet (kibble or wet food) “Complete and Balanced” meals are typically supplemented with synthetic vitamins and minerals, this enables the recipe to meet all the cat’s or dog’s RA needs as defined through the AAFCO profiles and the US National Research Council (NRC) within each meal. Simply Pets, for instance, do not add any synthetic vitamins, minerals or amino acids in their formula. Instead, Simply Pets went through the trouble of having the actual raw produce and building blocks used in the different recipes analyses for their presence of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, in their natural raw FOOD state. As per Act 36 of 1947 certification process, if you can prove it is there, you don’t have to add anything to the recipe, and achieve the “Complete and Balanced” registration status. Owing to modern farming practices (grazing that the animals eat, as well as the vegetable matter most manufacturers add into their recipes) certain vitamins and minerals are insufficient in our food chain, due to many reasons, including soil depletion over many years. If it is not in the food in the first place, no matter how digestible, the body won’t get it. In the case of Simply Pets, certain nutritional inadequacies, such as zinc, selenium and vitamin E, are added back into the recipe in raw FOOD state to ensure completeness.
From a nutritional point of view, a complete food could hypothetically be given every day, forever. However, this would not be advisable. From a wellbeing perspective, feeding the same recipe, with the same protein, every day, would fail to provide the variety necessary to contribute to the nutritional and emotional well-being and the individual needs of your fur kids. Fact is, very few pet parents will provide a “Complete and Balanced” meal, and not throw in a treat or two every now and again. The minute pet parents add anything to the dietary routine, it introduces variety. At Raw Food for Pets, we advocate variety because of seasonal, emotional and physical changes from day to day, week to week, month to month, and so forth, and because it is more in sync with Mother Nature.
This is exactly what happens in nature and in our (human) diet too: we do not ask if our lunch is complete, because we know that our diet provides us with balanced nutrition, with no deficiencies or excesses, if we alternate between different food sources, over a period of time.
It is key to remember that the supreme pet cuisine we resell from Simply Pets, Raw Love, Doggobone and Dogmatters are all biologically, specie appropriate, raw FOOD.
So how to choose?
The ideal solution is to select a diet that closely reproduces (or mimic as we stated earlier) the same variety of food sources as found in nature, replicating the natural balance of meats, vegetables and carbohydrates.
It is from here, that the nutritional framework we advocate for cats and dogs originates and is based on the practice of alternating between “Complete and Balanced” and “Complementary” meals for cats and dogs, varying between protein sources and types of ingredients used in the recipes.
Complete + Complementary = Unbalanced?
It is a pretty frequent question: does combining a complete meal with a complementary meal mean the meal’s nutrition is unbalanced? Absolutely not: from a nutritional point of view, just as in human nutrition as already mentioned, the cats or dogs’ requirements will be wholly satisfied over a number of meals but not every day in every single meal. Mother Nature designed the different systems (ours, our pets and other animals) so that the body with choose to keep the nutrients it needs when it needs it, and discard those it doesn’t.
Dr Viljoen echo’s this sentiment, stating that “my belief that there is nothing wrong with adding additional “food” like raw bones, extra fruit and veggies, and so forth, to the pets “balanced” raw diet, as it won’t unbalance the nutritional intake as the animal will only use what it needs. Otherwise natural treats should not be given either.”
At Raw Food for Pets, we advocate a mix of “Balanced and Complete” and “Complementary” raw food diets, as “Balanced and Complete” is not the holy grail or the “height” of nutritional food-based diets. Mother Nature did not design our systems this way – it was never intended to be adhered to strictly, if we consider the concept and philosophy of “evolutionary nutrition”. It forms the basis of adequate nutrition in our daily routine, to which you add during the day, or week, or month. Adding additional nutritional bits to the “Complete and Balanced” meal will not miraculously remove the required nutrition from the “Complete and Balanced” diet. Instead, it adds to the building blocks that’s in place, over time.
Journey of Enlightenment
One of the biggest challenges you will face in deciding whether to feed a raw diet is the overwhelming amount of conflicting information - this has been partially driven by a movement paralleled in the human food marketplace for natural and organic products - and the fact that much of the information on the topic of pet nutrition and dietary requirements are either behind keys due to the proprietary research involved, or anecdotal in nature, still today. There are numerous websites and message boards praising the virtues of biologically specie appropriate raw diets and there are others condemning raw diets as unsafe and unhealthy. When choosing how and what to feed your fur kids, you need balanced information - information that outlines both the good and bad so that an educated choice can be made.
As we are passionate about our fur kids and their health, our website and blog articles outlines the major benefits and concerns regarding a raw diet. If we have applied our efforts correctly, then the information we provide here will help guide you in your decision-making process. Keep in mind there are benefits and risks associated with all choices of food for your fur kids, so you must decide if the benefits of a raw diet based on the concept biologically specie appropriate raw FOOD outweigh the potential risks. When making the best choice for your fur kids, it’s important to remember that what is right for you and your fur kids may not be right for someone else and their dog. Raw food may not be appropriate for all fur kids and before you decide what is right for your fur kids, you should discuss your options with your veterinarian. And if your vet is not interested in discussing this topic, please provide them with a copy of this article. When reading through our site and articles, you will gain an understanding of the nutrients involved in feeding your fur kids, and you must decide what you are going to feed him or her. Will you feed a prepared processed food? If so, which ones are the most healthful and natural?
Or would you prefer, like many other pet parents who approach pet care with a holistic mind set, to feed a diet as good as a home-made diet? If you choose a home-made diet, should the food be fed raw or should it be cooked? Many pet parents and veterinarians have firm opinions when asked these questions.
Just what constitutes the best or most appropriate diet is quite a controversial topic, and there are as many opinions as there are metro-police officers in South Africa. Often the opinions are based more on emotion than on objective medical or nutritional facts. And when it comes to finding facts to back one view or the other, sometimes they are hard to find.
No matter which type of diet – home made, raw or processed – is chosen, it must meet at least five requirements, as defined by Dr Shawn Messonnier in his book titled "Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" :
- The diet must contain the proper amount and balance of essential nutrients required by your fur kids;
- The ingredients must be of high nutritional quality (in other words, FOOD, not feed) so that your fur kids can effectively digest, absorb, and utilise the dietary nutrients;
- The diet should be palatable so that your fur kids will eat it;
- The diet should contain minimal to no fillers such as animal or plant by-products, or if by-products are present, as in the case of some prescription-type diets for sick pets, the diet should contain the least number of by-products;
- The diet should contain no artificial colours, flavours, chemical preservatives, or additives, when possible.
In the end, we therefore recommend that no matter which food you choose to feed your fur kids, it should meet the above requirements.